Smartwatches are very much a mainstream tech category now, with top wrist wearable companions from the likes of Apple, Fitbit, Samsung, Fossil, Tag Heuer, Garmin, Huawei and LG helping to create a boom in popularity… 35 million smartwatches are expected to be bought in 2018.
But, what is the best smartwatch?
It’s tougher than ever to choose the best smartwatch but, with both fashion brands and the traditional tech powerhouses all with smartwatch models on sale, there are plenty of different smartwatches to choose from – across all budgets.
So, whether you’re looking for the top fitness smartwatch, the best smartwatch for your iPhone, the pick of the Wear bunch, or simply a good smartwatch for less than $200 we have the current best picks and upcoming devices.
Apple Watch Series 3
Part smartwatch, part fitness tracker, and a much, much better wearable than what we first got in 2015, the Apple Watch 3 is still far from perfect and Wear has caught up in terms of features, technology and style, but as far as the overall smartwatch experience goes, Apple is still doing the best work here.
This is Apple’s first cellular smartwatch, letting you cut the invisible tether to take it out sans iPhone and still make/receive calls, get texts and all other notifications you would on your phone.
The Series 3 is also heavily focused on fitness, with built-in GPS that we’ve found to be impressively accurate, and 50m waterproofing so it’s one of the best smartwatches for swimming as well.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is about those windows through the day where a cellular watch can be freeing. It’s not yet time to ditch the smartphone, but Apple makes a more convincing case for a standalone smartwatch than any other company has so far.
The best smartwatch for fitness tracking
With the Ionic, Fitbit finally delivered its first smartwatch, but perhaps more importantly to some, its best fitness tracker too. Running, biking, swimming, weight lifting – the Ionic has algorithms for tracking a range of different workouts, and in our testing it’s proven to be impressively versatile.
Fitbit says the Ionic’s GPS is better than anything else on the market, and we have to say it performed admirably in testing, while the four-plus days of battery life mean you won’t be taking it off your wrist as much as any of the smartwatches above.
The Ionic doesn’t have the option of a cellular connection, however, so you won’t get the standalone functionality you get with the Apple Watch Series 3 or the Samsung Gear S3. As to whether this is a bad thing or not, it depends if you class LTE as a feature or an excess.
Overall, some blemishes aside, the Ionic is a decent smartwatch that Fitbit fans and fitness trackers will really appreciate. Fitbit knows fitness, and it’s not half-assing this that’s for sure.
The best smartwatch for less than $200
The Fitbit Versa is the company’s second smartwatch and along with a change in design direction, crucially it’s available at a more affordable price than the Ionic.
The Fitbit Blaze replacement looks more Pebble than the first Fitbit smartwatch and comes in a host of different finishes and with a big collection of bands to mix up the look.
It promises all of the same fitness and sports tracking features as the Ionic although the big omission is the lack of GPS. If you want to track runs and rides, you’ll need to have your smartphone with you.
Fitbit OS 2.0 brings a new-look UI that offers more insights into your daily data and quick reply support for messages for Android phone users (iOS support coming at a later date). You can still download apps and a whole lot of watch faces, pay from your wrist using Fitbit Pay and tap into Fitbit Coach, while new women’s health tracking has also been introduced for the first time.
It’s the best Fitbit smartwatch so far and if you are not bothered about the lack of built-in GPS, we think you’re going to like it.